Blackout Paperback – 1 Jun 2011
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"A tour de force . . . [Willis] is one of America's finest writers."--"The Denver Post""This compassionate and deeply imagined novel . . . gives the reader a strong you-were-there feeling." --"The Times-Picayune" "[Willis has] researched Blackout so thoroughly, her readers may imagine she had access to the time machine her characters use." "--The Seattle Times" "A page-turning thriller . . . Willis uses detail and period language exquisitely well, creating an engaging, exciting tale.""--Publishers Weekly"
A Second World War time-travel masterpiece.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
If you have read Connie Willis before you will know what to expect - her gentle, educated and knowledgable take on history using a form of time-travel that, although not explained is still quite unique to her stories. Having said "gentle" don't expect her to shy away from grim reality when it's needed, it is just presented in an easy style that pulls you through it.
The research put into these two books is astonishing considering they are not academic books. There may be historical errors, as others have mentioned in these reviews, but you'd have to do some serious study to spot them. What is more, if you know little about the London Blitz or WWII's effect on the country, your eyes will be opened. You will walk with the people who lived through it, you will see them suffer, see them rejoice and understand so much more because of it.
There are reasons for the many failed attempts the time-travellers endure trying to get home to their future Oxford but you'll have to wait until All Clear to find out what they are. Suffice to say the time-travellers growing anxiety at the possibility of them altering history by their presence ramps up and by the end you will probably do as I did and dive straight into All Clear. Certainly it carries on seamlessly.
Yes, a few readers have been disappointed by the abrupt end to Blackout, which offered no conclusions, just an added mystery tacked on at the end which *did* seem a little out of place looking back (it wasn't the character I thought it was). All is forgiven though. It made sense in the actual end.
I'll conclude my review on the All Clear page, but I will say this for readers new to the story - bear with the author, she knows what she is doing and wraps it all up neatly at the end. It's a bit of an emotional roller-coaster at times but worth your time if you are interested in the period and would like to know what it was like living on the Home Front rather than out in the trenches, up in the skies or battling on the seas. Those men and women were at the cutting edge but that didn't meant staying at home was particularly easy - or safe.
One historian is out at a country estate, working as a maid tending to children sent to the countryside to avoid the Blitz. The second in in London, living in a rooming house and working as a department store assistant. The third set down along the coast, to get a feel for the citizen sailors who participated in the Dunkirk evacuation. Very early on in the book, it's pretty clear (to the reader) that the time travel mechanism isn't working properly.
Unfortunately, the rest of the book doesn't advance the plot much further beyond that. Instead, it gets kind of bogged down in recreating the sights and sounds of wartime England. These are fairly interesting (although some reviewers have noted a number of errors), and while the three characters do face challenges and thrills and spills, the book seems to be running in place. I didn't realize why until near the end -- it's just part one of a two-volume story.... So if you pick this up, do so with the full knowledge that it's half a book, and you'll need to read All Clear to get the resolution.
This is not a walk in the park; this is not popcorn. But if you got to the end of Doomsday Book and wanted to read it again, then in Blackout/All Clear you'll get more than you ever dared to dream that you deserved. If you haven't read Doomsday Book yet, then read that first and once you've read that buy Blackout/All Clear and then read them slowly and savour them and TRUST THE AUTHOR. She is not padding, she is not finding her way. You are the one who is trying to find your way! Read them right and at the end you'll think, as you face tomorrow's brave new world, what a joy is is to be given succour by the people in it, amongst whom Willis is surely a first amongst equals. A towering achievement. Thanks Connie!
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